How alternative magazines confronted and transformed the world


Between the 1970s and the 1990s, a new innovative publishing phenomenon emerged, merging the production values ​​of photographic titles such as Vogue and Life with the more subversive and experimental design elements of zines. Bridging the gap between the political and underground pamphlets and newspapers of the 1960s and the glossy mainstream publications that dominated newsstands, this wave of alternative magazines created a new space for artists to exhibit their work and a new medium. through which they could disseminate their art and ideas.

During these turbulent few decades, magazines such as Dazed & Confused, The face, username, Think about ink, Source, Blitz, and Outlook became important repositories for artists and writers such as Wolfgang Tillmans, Hilton Als, Laurie Simmons (mother of Lena Dunham), Liz Johnson Artur and Lyle Ashton Harris. Where magazines were once seen as ephemeral, these new publications were more powerful forces with the power to concretely shape popular culture, bringing subcultures and underground movements to the fore while challenging what culture looked like. dominant and what it could possibly contain.

A new exhibition, Subscribe: Alternative Artists and Magazines, 1970-1995 at the Art Institute of Chicago explores the ways in which these publications amplified the voices and visibility of marginalized groups. “These magazines fostered networks that were vitally important to emerging artists at the time,” says co-curator Michal Raz-Russo in a statement about the exhibition. “With an emphasis on a collaborative approach, they were among the most innovative and revolutionary spaces for discussions on art, culture and politics. ”

Containing over 130 issues of these founding magazines, as well as photographs and time-based media works of artists featured in the publications, the exhibition traces the threads and discourses developing through their pages. “Rather than attempting a full survey, Subscribe focuses on particular moments of innovation, ”noted Co-Commissioner Solveig Nelson. “An important arc is how queer content and perspectives have become essential for magazines as works of art and spaces. Another is how many artists have pushed the boundaries of magazines. “

Subscribe: Alternative Artists and Magazines, 1970-1995 is at the Art Institute of Chicago until May 2, 2022


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